National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew Jusepe de Ribera (artist)
Spanish, 1591 - 1652
The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, 1634
oil on canvas
overall: 104 x 113 cm (40 15/16 x 44 1/2 in.) framed: 134.6 x 143.8 x 10.2 cm (53 x 56 5/8 x 4 in.)
Gift of the 50th Anniversary Gift Committee
1990.137.1
On View
From the Tour: Spanish Painting in the Seventeenth Century
Object 2 of 7

Conservation Notes

The support is a twill fabric prepared with a thin, smooth reddish brown ground. Over this is a second, dark layer, black or possibly brown, with a rough texture that suggests application with a palette knife only under the main area of the composition, as visible in x-radiographs. The paint was manipulated skillfully to express different textures. Thin wispy strokes were used to modify the fluidly applied flesh tones, which also show the wet-into-wet application of black paint. A pointed object was dragged through the still-wet paint of the executioner's beard to create the texture of the hair. X-radiographs reveal two artist's changes. Saint Bartholomew's right forearm has changed position, with the previous arm left unfinished, without a hand underneath it. The fingertips of the right hand were also slightly shifted.

The original tacking margins have been removed, but cusping is present along all four sides. Two long tears in the fabric support have been repaired, which can be seen in x-radiographs. Aside from losses associated with these tears, there are only minor and carefully inpainted losses scattered throughout and some abrasion in the executioner's chest. The varnish is clear. The painting was treated most recently by Herbert Lank after 1983.

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